Mayor Rob Ford’s campaign team says it held three fundraising events in June, including one at the upscale steakhouse Harbour 60, raising a total of $71,500 to help eliminate a shortfall, but the costs of these fundraisers and who covered them remain a mystery.
Campaign expense disclosure documents, filed last week, indicate that the Ford campaign paid nothing to hold the three fundraising events.
According to Ontario’s municipal election handbook, the gross revenue and expenses for each fundraising event “must be recorded and reported on the candidate’s financial disclosure form.”
“It’s unbelievable that you could have a fundraising event without expenses,” said York University political scientist Robert MacDermid, who specializes in political fundraising. Unless the events took place in a public space, he added, the expenses should include a rental expense or acknowledge the donation of a venue. “There’s nothing [in the filings]to suggest he’s got in-kind contributions.”
The news comes just a month after council’s compliance audit committee ordered a forensic review of the mayor’s election finances – unprecedented in Toronto.
Mr. Ford’s campaign used $55,327.63 of the $71,5000 raised in June to pay for the legal fees incurred by the mayor in his attempt to counter allegations that his campaign’s unorthodox financing techniques ran afoul of Ontario election laws, according to the recently submitted documents. Mr. Ford’s lawyer Tom Barlow, a partner at Fasken Martineau, has appealed the order, and an Ontario court judge will hear the case next spring.
Two Toronto voters in April brought forward allegations based on a Globe and Mail investigation that revealed that Mr. Ford relied on a line of credit from his family’s holding company to finance his campaign. If the courts uphold the compliance audit committee’s decision, a forensic auditor will have the right to probe all aspects of the campaign, including questions about other fundraising expenses, pre-election spending, and the alleged heavily discounted price the campaign paid to rent an RV from a contributor.
Mr. Ford has steadfastly stated that he adhered to all election finance rules. Adrienne Batra, Mr. Ford's spokesperson, said the mayor's office will prepare a response in the next few days.
The information on the latest set of fundraising filings is sparse, indicating only the date of the events and the dollar totals raised from donations at the door. None of the events involved ticket sales. Besides the June 8, 2011, event at Harbour 60, the other two are listed only as “BILD” on June 27, and “Bromell” on June 22. BILD is the Toronto GTA Building Industry & Land Development Association.
Former Toronto Police Association president Craig Bromell, who currently produces a cop drama for CTV, denied hosting an event for the mayor. “No, I’ve never done fundraisers with him,” he said.
Staff at Harbour 60 declined to comment on whether Mr. Ford had used the restaurant for a fundraiser.
According to the documents, the campaign as of Sept. 30 had a $27,307.99 surplus, which has been refunded to the city clerk. Mr. Ford’s campaign last week also remitted a cheque for $6,850.00 for “forfeited donations.”
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